The Israel Police will resume their investigation of four advisers to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who are suspected of harassing Shlomo Filber, the former Communications Ministry director general who turned state’s evidence in the ongoing criminal corruption case against Netanyahu.
Filber is in the middle of testifying in the case, which is being tried in Jerusalem District Court. The police plan to resume their investigation of the four advisers after Filber finishes his testimony. Meanwhile, the police asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to continue to hold the cellphones of the four advisers to Netanyahu, who was prime minister at the time of the alleged harassment, for another two months.
Lawyers for the suspects, Yonatan Urich, Ofer Golan, Yossi Shum and Israel Einhorn, have agreed to the request and the Tel Aviv court has approved it.
The four, two of whom – Urich and Golan – are still advisers to now-opposition leader Netanyahu, are suspected of being behind the parking of a vehicle with a loudspeaker system outside Filber’s home in 2019 calling on him to retract his agreement to turn state’s evidence. Filber, who was not home at the time of the incident, reported it to the police but didn’t file a formal complaint.
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Netanyahu is on trial on three separate cases, including one in which he allegedly obtained favorable news coverage from the Walla news website in return for regulatory concessions to the Bezeq telecommunications company, which owned Walla at the time. Filber was the director general of the Communications Ministry when this occurred.
Two and a half years ago, the court approved a police request to carry out a “surgical” search of the advisers’ cellphones as part of their investigation of the alleged harassment of Filber. The phones were searched in the advisers’ presence with their consent, but without a search warrant and without informing them that they had the right to refuse. Screenshots from the phones were also taken.
The advisers asserted that the searches were illegal and that the evidence derived from them should be inadmissible. The investigation was suspended, but in January the Supreme Court ruled that the police were authorized to search the suspects’ phones and laptops without a warrant, paving the way for the continued investigation.